Water Framework Directive Fitness Check
Given the challenges raised with the implementation of the Directive, the Commission announced in October 2017 a comprehensive policy evaluation (REFIT) of the Directive, alongside the Environmental Quality Standards Directive, the Groundwater Directive and the Floods Directive. The European Commission published a roadmap
, which was followed by an extensive stakeholder consultation (including an online consultation
). It assessed whether the Directive was fit for purpose by examining five criteria: effectiveness, efficiency, coherence, relevant and EU added value.
In 2019, the Commission concluded that the Directive is largely fit for purpose, especially as it led to a higher level of protection for water bodies. Most importantly, the Commission notes:
“The fact that the WFD’s objectives have not been reached fully yet is largely due to insufficient funding, slow implementation and insufficient integration of environmental objectives in sectoral policies, and not due to a deficiency in the legislation.
The conclusions were strongly supported by the European Anglers Alliance and its partners in the Living Rivers Europe coalition who led the #ProtectWater campaign to safeguard the WFD.
Mark Owen, Freshwater Policy Advisor to the European Anglers Alliance and Living Rivers Europe partner, said:
“For 20 years we have been battling Member States to properly implement the Water Framework Directive as the most sustainable way of restoring fish stocks for the millions of anglers who take part in recreational fishing, the thousands of jobs that depend on angling together with the rural economies that directly benefit from angling tourism. Now that the fitness check has determined that the WFD is not only fit for purpose but that failure is due to lack of implementation by Member States, we would expect urgent action to conform with the present legal requirements to deliver for fish and fishing.”